by James Coulter
Hundreds of people across the world, even across our own community, do not have enough food to eat. The Empty Bowls program hopes to remedy that by painting hundreds of bowls to end world hunger.
Last Friday, several hundred volunteers gathered at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd at Lake Wales to paint bowls for an upcoming fundraising dinner to be hosted later this month.
The painting day was hosted by the Lake Wales Care Center to help facilitate the Empty Bowls program. According to its website, the program “is a grassroots movement by artists and crafts people in cities and towns around the world to raise money for food related charities to care for and feed the hungry in their communities.”
From morning to night, countless ceramic bowls were painted and glazed by volunteers at the church. These bowls will be auctioned off through a silent auction at a dinner on Tues., Jan. 31 at 5:30 PM at First Presbyterian Lake Wales.
Many volunteers arrived for the very first time on Friday to paint bowls. Others, like mother/daughter team Michelle and Diane Lescard, have been attending for more than a decade. They remember participating in the event when it was first hosted in the downtown area.
“I love art, and it is fun to come in and meet new people and have camraderie with people with the same purpose, which is to help charity,” Diane said. “I wanted to help people who needed help and needed food. That is the purpose of this empty bowl is to give to people who need it.”
Jolee Beamer, Director of Office and Volunteer Relations, has been hosting the Empty Bowls event for several years, having worked at the Care Center for nearly ten years. This year’s painting day proved to be the busiest, she said.
“Today, we have doubled the number we normally have at this event,” Beamer said. “It is really exciting to have a lot of new people with their first time coming. Yesterday, we had a group of 25 men from Refuge on the Ridge come and participate…It is fun that the other artists are helping each other and figure stuff out.”
Last year, 210 bowls were painted and auctioned off. While this year’s bowl count remains to be estimated, she expects it to be greater than last year. The annual fundraiser has drawn people from as far as Poinciana, she explained.
“It is a neat way for people who would not otherwise be able to participate by volunteering through the year and contributing through the community,” she said. “[They can] have fun and be artistic and [enjoy] fellowship with their friends and raise money to help fill empty bowls in the community.”
The Empty Bowls Dinner will be hosted later this month on Tues., Jan. 31 at 5:30 PM at First Presbyterian Lake Wales. For more information, contact the Lake Wales Care Center at 863-676-6678, or visit their website at: https://lakewalescarecenter.com/